Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word


 - definition

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary entries. Click on the T button in an entry to review the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun British English pronunciation: surface /ˈsɜː(r)fɪs/ 
Word Forms
  1. 1
    [countable] the top layer or outside part of something

    Wipe the surface with a damp cloth.

    a smooth/rough/hard surface

    Road surfaces are slippery from the icy rain.

    1. a.
      the top layer of water or land

      the surface of Mars

      We saw fish swimming just under the surface of the water.

      A farmer was spreading fertilizer over the surface of the soil.

  2. 2
    [countable] a flat area of a desk, table etc that you use for working on

    Papers and books covered the surface of the desk.

    All surfaces in the kitchen should be carefully cleaned.

    1. a.
      a flat area used for playing sports, or the material used for making this area

      Many tennis players dislike the grass surface at Wimbledon.

      His favourite surface is clay.

  3. 3
    [singular] the way that someone or something looks or seems while their true feeling or character remains hidden

    Underneath his cool surface was a growing sense of insecurity.

    on the surface:

    On the surface, they looked like a happily married couple.

    beneath the surface:

    Hostility lies beneath the surface of calm in the region.

  4. 4
    [countable] maths one of the sides of an object

    A cube has six surfaces.

property porn

a type of television programme, magazine article, etc which shows off desirable homes …

BuzzWord Article

Word of the Day


an old word for a young woman who is not married

Open Dictionary

flat design

a type of design used on the web which excludes features which give a three-dimensional effect … and uses simple styles

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog